Ranitomeya fantastica “True Nominal” or “Nominant”

This morph made its way into my collection in a most unexpected manner; a friend of mine was exiting the hobby and had just acquired this group from Understory Enterprises in early 2015, so I jumped at the chance to take them in. I currently house a group of four in an Exo Terra 18″ x 18″ x 24″ vivarium.

This page is still under active development as this is a new morph for me as of August 2015. I will continue to add to this page as I document more background and behavior on this locale.

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R. fantastica “True Nominal” locale information

Yurimaguas – geography

R. fantastica was first described in 1883 by Boulanger (see below) while documenting frogs from Yurimaguas near the Huallaga River in Northern Peru. Here are some images from Google Maps that illustrate the locale. The first is a Google Earth image to situate you as to the location within Peru:

As we zoom in we can see the Huallaga River and Yurimaguas situated on its banks:

Another interesting perspective was this aerial photo that shows the impact of deforestation around Yurimaguas:

Imagery (C) 2015 Landsat, Data SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map Data (c) 2015 Google

Yurimaguas – climate

I also like to pull weather data from sites near the purported collection points for my frogs. In this case, I looked for NOAA listed weather stations in the region, first searching here:


Once I had the station ID (GHCND:PEM00084425 – MOISES BENZAQUEN RENGIFO, PE), I searched the archives for the station data here:


From there I determined the starting point of available data and requested a CSV download. For those that care, the order at NOAA looks like this:

Unfortunately RH data was not available for this weather station. I requested all available data for all available dates. I’ll be adding plots to this page once I prepare time series views of temperature and precipitation data from the area. I’ll be using this data set as a sample for learning more about python scripting and R. Should be interesting!

Ranitomeya fantastica “True Nominal” history

The nominal R. fantastica described by Boulanger in 1883 had not been seen since that original description until Understory Enterprises found several animals near Yurimaguas in 2011. UE began working with these animals and made several available to the US hobby in early 2015.

After acquiring a group of nominal fantastica in August of 2015 I started searching around for Boulanger’s original description published in 1883.

R. fantastica – Boulanger 1883

A synopsis of Boulanger’s initial description and drawings are presented here and the entire article can be found here:

Boulenger, G. A. (1884). On a collection of frogs from Yurimaguas, Huallaga River, Northern Peru. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1883, 635-638. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1883.tb06669.x

4. Dendrobates fantasticus, sp. n. (Plate LVII, fig. 3.)

Closely allied to D. tinctorius and reticulatus, but differing from the former by the longer limbs, the tarso-metatarsal articulation reaching beyond the tip of the snout, and from both by the belly being granulate. Head to fore limbs above and below yellow ; humerus above, and the borders of the yellow colour white ; the rest of the body and limbs black, with wide-meshed grey reticulation. Male with a subgular vocal sac. From snout to vent 20 millim.

Here’s a close up of the original drawing:

R. fantastica – Silverstone 1975

R. fantastica – Myers 1982

R. fantastica – Brown et al 2008

Ranitomeya fantastica is a phenotypically diverse species, exhibiting over a half a dozen phenotypes (see Fig. 8–10). However, no known population exactly matches those described by Boulenger, which possess a solid-red head mask which extends onto the upper arms. The most notable feature of three of the four type individuals is that they lack a dark chevron between the eyes, a characteristic which has been noted in all nom- inal R. fantastica populations. Despite repeated searches near Yurimaguas, we have been unable to locate a population of R. fantastica lacking dark coloration on the head, and we now fear that the exact type population may no longer exist, given that most forests within 25 km of Yurimaguas have been destroyed. However, one population 40 km NW of Yurimaguas along the Rio Paranapura is almost identical (Fig. 8, A–H), with some individuals possessing only a small chevron between the eyes and pale coloration on the upper arms, appear- ing very similar to the four type specimens (especially individual L, Fig. 10). Given the morphological simi- larities of the Rio Paranapura population, we consider members related to these individuals to be R. fantastica sensu stricto.

R. fantastica – Understory Enterprises 2011

Understory Enterprises has a succinct summary of the history of this morph posted on their site:

Ranitomeya fantastica (Boulenger, 1883)

Described by Boulenger 1883 from specimens colleced near Yurimaguas. Extensive searching by ourselves and other interested colleagues has until recently failed to find a fantastica with the solid coloured head as depicted in its description near the vicinity of Yurimaguas. However, Evan Twomey , in July 2011 found several specimens within a few kilometers of Yurimaguas, which appear to be a perfect match of the long lost holotypic form of fantastica. The gently undulating terrain in the vicinity of Yurimaguas has been heavily deforested in recent generations as is the case near any major city in Peru, and this has led to a severely diminished range for this morph.

Hopefully some of their native range can be preserved so we do not lose this beautiful animal in the wild.

R. fantastica – other links

Unfortunately another appearance this locale made in the news was when several frogs were confiscated from a long time hobbyist located in Hawaii after he [allegedly] illegally imported new animals via the US Mail in 2014. Here are the original reports:




Another nice summary of the R. fantastica clade is at dendroboard.

Ranitomeya fantastica “True Nominal” photos

Right now my documentation on this morph is fairly thin, so I’ll make up for it with photos 🙂

Ranitomeya fantastica “True Nominal” breeding

I have a 1.3 group of R. fantastica nominal that I hope to breed. I took delivery of them on August 8, 2015, and found my first transported tadpole on August 21, 2015 … so they didn’t waste any time getting started. I will add photos of clutches, tadpoles and froglets as I capture them.

R. fantastica depositing

No luck capturing photos of a clutch yet! I believe they are depositing in behind a large cork round in the back of the viv out of sight.

R. fantastica transporting

Here’s the main deposition area I created in the viv:

As you can see above the male was checking out the deposition pool but he didn’t drop the tadpole while I was taking photos. Here are close ups of the transport down to the pool:

I spotted him later in the day at the top of the vivarium with his tadpole backpack still intact.

R. fantastica froglets

Check back later in 2015!

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